The Diary of Harrison Daniels

Tecumseh Home.bmp (532294 bytes)

Harrison Daniels and his wife Sarah in front of the Tecumseh home in about 1912

From the Diary of Harrison Daniels

Late of the 4th Michigan Regiment Co G

Grand Army of the Potomac

"On the 27th of April enlisted in Co G 4th Michigan Infantry being the second to enlist from the township of Franklin. So on Monday the 27th of April I walked to Tecumseh, nine miles from home and was soon drilling. I stayed there until the 16th of May. While here the citizens took good care of us and furnished us a very neat uniform which consisted of a red cap, blue jacket, and red pants, so that with clean faces and blackened shoes we made a very good appearance. In this matter of uniforms, Lucius Lilly was the leading spirit. On the 16th of May we bid the good people of Tecumseh good-bye and in many cases return not.

    We reached Adrian that night where we stayed and kept up our drilling and changed our uniform for one of gray, and on the 20th of June were sworn into the United States Service and became real soldiers. On that same day we received a fine flag which was presented by Mrs. Wilcox. On the 25th of June we left for Washington D.C., arriving on the first day of July 1861. The next day we formed camp on Meridian Hill, one mile north of the White House. For a hospital we used an old mansion once owned by John Quincy Adams. A few days after going into camp I was taken sick with scarlet rash so that I was off duty for ten days. While so excused from duty, another comrade, Wm. C. Pierson, who had also been sick, got a pass and we walked down to the Whitehouse to see Uncle Abe. After being admitted, we were shown a waiting room, presently a door opened and President Lincoln entered, followed by his cabinet and others of military rank. When I first saw him I thought him truly the homeliest man that I had ever seen, but, when we rose and saluted him and he cam with a smile and shook hands with us and called us his "Boys" his countenance so changed that we loved him from that time on. But my comrade never again saw him again for he was killed at the battle of Gainsville on the 27th of June 1862. And Uncle Abe has left us so I am the only one of the trio that is now living. I saw  President  Lincoln many times after that. "- Harrison Daniels

   " About the middle of July we crossed the Potomac and on 21st of July we opened the First Bull - Run battle where we fought and ran and the rebs did the same. We returned to our old camp where we remained until the 18th of August, then we again crossed the historical Potomac and built Fort Woodbury which was named after our colonel. My health was now good and I could work or walk as fast or as far as was necessary.

    About the first of November we went into camp for the winter on Miners Hill in to the northwest corner of the District of Colombia. Soon after this McClellan had his grand review of over 100,000 men and where again I saw President Lincoln as I was present in the ranks. A few days after that, I with 29 other men from our regiment was sent to Washington to bring Prof. Lowe's balloon to Army headquarters. It was named Intrepid and I say it a good many times after that. I spent the winter of 61 and 62 rather pleasantly with now and then a reconnaissance on one of which we went to Vienna, Va. on the 14th of Feb. 1862 where I found an old newspaper called the Virginia Argus printed in 1804 and containing the news and advertisements of that date. It is now 108 years old and is still in my possession. 

    Finally on the first of March we got our marching orders and started on our way to Richmond by way of the Peninsula. as the weather was favorable we had a ver7y pleasant trip down the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to Fortress Monroe. Then commenced that Great Campaign of the Army of the Potomac which was numbered 135,000 men and which was a total failure so far as taking Richmond was concerned. During all its marches and battles I was present and on duty. We spent about one month and a half on the banks of the historic James River. On the 14th of August we left there on the retreat down the peninsula and made our memorable march of 85 mile in less than two days.

    But time and space forbids my speaking of all the battles and up to the winter of 1862. Then came the battle of Fredericksburg on the 14th of December. On that night after the dark I was detailed to take the place of our colored -guard, George Fogle who had been killed. The position I filled until by my own request I was relieved and went back to my company."

   "Then on the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, of May found us at Chancelorsville with our old enemy in our front. On the 4th our company was put on picket duty. That night while on post I saw a light directly in front of me, but I did not fire at it but when relieved by LTE. Allen I asked the privilege of investigating it and to which he gave his consent, and instructed the pickets not to fire on me and that I was going outside of the lines and for what purpose. I then took my trusty rifle and some cartridges in my pocket went through the lines. I then got on my hands and knees, crawled along towards the light which was still burning until 8 or 10 rods from it when I saw plainly the cause of the light in the person of a confederate soldier who was trying to draw our fire by means of it and froppling leaves and twigs on the blaze, to keep it up after viewing him just a moment I took careful aim and fired, -- the light went out. What the result was I do not know, neither do I care to, it is enough to know that I did my duty as defending the flag and our country in time of danger."

"Gettysburg - The Battle of the Wheatfield"

    "After more hard marching and fighting which I have not time to relate, as I am not giving a history of the regiment or of the Army of the Potomac. We come now to the first of July 1863 to the Battle of Gettysburg, and where the downfall of the Confederacy commenced and where our brave Meade showed plainly that he was a better man than Lee. This battle was fought on the 1, 2, 3, of July 1863. We reached the battlefield in time to take our place in the first line of battle on the morning of the second day, and where we lost our brave Colonel Harrison H. Jeffords by a bayonet thrust, and where many more yielded up their lives in defense of our Flag that we promised to protect with our lives. On the afternoon of the third day I learned that WM. H. Plummer of our company and a chum of mine, and who had been a member of the color-guard, was missing and inside the confederate lines."

4th Michigan dedicating monument at Gettysburg

The Wheatfield

    After dark there was a detail made to go out after and care for the wounded. I asked permission to go with them. It was so dark that we could hardly see the way between the dead men and the broken pieces of artillery. I had a canteen of water also a piece of candle about 2 inches long. I could just see the large trees and rocks among which we fought the rebel pickets and went for the trees calling "Henry" twice. The second time I heard a faint groan that I knew was his and I was soon at his side, pouring water on his wound and giving him just a little to drink. I did not dare to light the candle for only a moment at a time for fear the rebels would discover me and take me prisoner. I did not like the idea of going to Richmond under guard. Plummer fainted soon after I reached his side, but with some help I saw him safely in an ambulance and he went to York, Pa. to the General Hospital. I never expected to see him again, but about a month after I was made glad by a the receipt of a letter from him which I soon answered. And then again I heard no more until we reached Detroit to be muster out of service, when I received word from him to come to the hospital. It was another happy meeting again. He now lives in Ann Arbor and says that I saved his life and for which I came very near getting a Medal of Honor. 

    As soon as he was missed I was again detailed to take his place on the Color Guard and where I remained and carried the Flag during Grant's campaign through the Wilderness and until we reached Petersburg then after fighting for three or four days, we left the army and came to Detroit and was mustered out of Service on the 30th of June 1864 and on the first of July 1864 I reached my home after an absence of three years and nearly three months. I it did seem good to be in God's country again, to again meet the friends and schoolmates of my early life."

    "In this chapter I shall go back and insert some things that I had forgotten and that are not in history. These things come back to my memory almost daily and the thoughts of them are dear to me. I shall ask you to go back to the year 1862 when General McClellan took us to the Peninsula. We landed at Fortress Monroe without a thing in our haversacks except some had a little coffee and for three days no rations came. The third day we got desperate and dug muscles, boiled them and drank some of the broth. The confederates had burned the village of Hampton, also the buildings and there was not a thing left for us to eat or burn. 

    As the Army was to move on the Second of April, 1862, for Yorktown and that the inhabitants should give no warning of our advance to the enemy, a  detail of four me, H. C. Daniels, C. E. Hampton, Crop, Onsted, and Serg't. Mead of our company were sent outside the picket line to guard a confederate's and it's occupants. The Proprietor, an old man, was called out and listened to the orders given us, which was, that we were to watch the doors and windows, and if we saw any lights or signs that we were to shoot the person giving such signs without further orders. Then we proceeded to load our guns and sent him to bed, but about eleven o'clock while Hampton and Meade were on duty, Onsted and I went to the negro quarters, routed them all up and ordered supper. Then we went to the poultry yard and caught 4 good chickens, took them down to the darkies to cook and we had a good meal after midnight. Then we went back and killed and dressed 4 more so we had each one to carry on the march the next day, which we cooked the next night and divided with Lieut. Jerome Allen. 

    On the night of the 5th of July 1862 while the Army was quietly resting on the banks of the James River after seven days fighting the confederates shelled our camp at 8 o'clock at night, which created some excitement in camp and among the contrabands, a large crowd of which was lying between us and the river, but it lasted only for a short time for us soon our guns got the range, they soon knocked them out. 

    Then the 4th Mich. Reg't. was sent across the river the next day to see what was there. We found a part of their artillery which had been completely demolished. We captured one confederate cavalryman. after going into country a mile or two, then we returned to the landing and burned a large white house from behind which the confederates had fired on us. So we took their shelter."

   "On the 23rd of May, 1864, during Grant's campaign through the Wilderness on the morning of this day I felt sick and no appetite and soon became satisfied that I had the mumps, but kept on going with the regiment, as I now was a member of the Color Guard. But about 4'o'clock in the afternoon we struck the North Anna River with the enemy on the other side. So we were ordered to charge across the river and drive them away, so in we all went, the water was cold and waist deep. After we got across we had a fight for about an hour or so, then it began to rain and dark coming on ewe laid down, but had  to sleep on our arms with no fires and but little covering. Burt no sleep for me,-- the next morning I found that I had taken cold and the mumps had settled on me. I sent for Capt. Marshall and told him my condition and he gave me a pass to the division hospital nearly a mile away. I started about noon but it was almost night when I got there. The hospital tents were full of wounded and dying, so it was not a good place for me. I found Al Mossmen of our company who helped me fix a bed under a cedar tree then we made a cup of coffee, but I could neither eat nor drink anything hot or cold but after it got cool I drank a very little, then Al went to see the doctor and told him my condition, but the doctor said he could do nothing for me but did send me a large pill of morphine and said I was to nibble off a little every 2 hours which I did and about 9 or 10 o'clock I went to sleep,  at least I suppose I did as I knew nothing until 4 o'clock the next morning when the bugle was sounding the call to strike tents and move. Mossmen soon came to me with some coffee and asked me what I was going to do. I told him I guessed I would stay right there. He said they had an extra horse that I could ride. The horse soon came around and by getting on a log then a stump I got on sidewise and was soon on the road with the train, where we waited until 10 o'clock before we moved. Wasn't that a tedious wait? But then it was the military. I remained with the hospital 4 days when the doctor in charge came to ask if I was able to go with the train of wounded to White House Landing and that all I would have to do would be to make some coffee or get some water for the wounded when the train stopped. We started about midnight or 1 a.m. arrived at the Landing the next day about 1 p.m. and moved the wounded to a large hospital tents that had been erected there for them. I then returned to my regiment, took my gun and stood by the flag until my term of service expired."

    " On the 20th of June 1864  while battling with the enemy at Petersburg our term of enlistment expired, but the afternoon of the 19th Gen. Barnes commanding our Brigade called our regiment into line and told us that our term was out but he had no orders to that effect as yet and wanted to know if the enemy pushed him if we would stand by him. We all said "yes". He said that he would not put us into action if he could help it. But that night between 8 and 9 while resting in a piece of woods they called us up and into the line in whispers, took us down a hill into a ravine where we relieved another regiment, and only a few rods from the enemies skirmish line and left us there until about 10 o'clock the next day, - our breakfast was hardtack and sow belly taken while lying down flat on the ground as it was sure death to stand up. But we kept the other fellows in the same shape. About 10 o'clock we were relieved, and when we rose up and started on the run over the hill, we had one man killed and two wounded whose time of service had expired and who should have been mustered out that day. Poor fellows, didn't we hate to leave them there after they had been so brave and true.

    On the night of the 20th of June, 1864 we spend our last night with the Army of the Potomac and although it was a beautiful night and we were out of danger and where the rebel bullets could not reach us there was no sleep for us. Our minds were filled with thoughts of the dear ones at home and the comrades that were then sleeping in the south-land and that could not return with us to the friends that  were looking for them, also bidding those that re-enlisted a last "goodbye", and but few of them did we ever see again. Yes, we were breaking that tie of comradeship that binds the brave and true so firmly together no man knows the strength of this tie except he, who has been in its toils and is then obliged to break it, for it twines around the heartstrings so closely that it is like taking life, very nearly." 

    On our way home we reached Pittsburgh, Pa. on Saturday morning and as we could get no transportation we had to stay there until Monday a.m. and although we were ragged and dirty and had no money, we were right from the front, an arrangement was made so that all the people might have a chance to see us in a  body. We were invited to attend the largest church in the city --- it had been a long time since we were in such good hands. After the church was file to almost over-flowing, we marched, keeping step to the march that was being played for us and were seated clear to the front. The minister then arose and announced  a familiar hymn which they all sang with spirit. Then he began his prayer for God's blessing on our country, the flag and its' defenders, the tears blinded his eyes and his throat became filled so that he had to stop and clear both. After the services were over we marched out and formed in line in single file, then came the people to shake hands with us and give us a God bless you. As I looked around to the boys many of them were in tears. I think seeing those ladies and gentlemen reminded them of dear fathers and mothers, sisters, and the lovely maidens that were looking for them and so ready to receive them, on their return to the land of friendship and plenty. Now the ole 4th Michigan will always remember the people of Pittsburgh and their kindness to us on that occasion and today the recollections are pleasant to dwell upon.

" As the Chaplin has not been mentioned in this work, we will give him all that he is entitled to. On the 20th of June, 1861 while in camp Williams in Adrian, a man whose name I shall withhold was appointed Chaplain of our regiment, and who reported to Colonel Woodbury, saying on the next Sabbath he would hold divine services on the parade ground. At 10 o'clock the regiment was assembled at the hour appointed and formed into column by company, the Chaplain soon made his appearance, dressed finer than any officers in a semi - military uniform and a large sword buckled to his side. He didn't ask the boys to sing a hymn which they could have done for we had some of the finest voices that I ever listened to, but went directly to telling us how we ought to live, which took him a tedious hour. This was his first sermon and but few did we get after that. we left on the 25th of June for the seat of war, I think he preached 4 or 5 times during summer and fall. But in winter he was often on a pass to Washington, and one night came back to camp so drunk that he could not get on his bunk and lay on the ground all night. A short time after he was caught playing poker and played all night or until he had beaten the officers that he had been playing with out of their money. Col. Woodbury, learning of this fact, called him to his tent and stating the facts, asked if they were true. He could not deny them, so the Colonel told him to go to his tent and write out his resignation and he would accept it and then go immediately home, for the boys were bad enough without having such examples before them."

    "Then for a time we were without a Chaplin, for the sick or dying and if I rightly remember we burried two  or three without any Chaplain being present. These men were burried at Falls - Church, Va. But on the 20th of July 1862 John Sage, a homely M. E. local preacher was appointed, who later was wounded in action on June 8th 1863. As soon as he came into camp we saw that we had a different kind of man as Chaplain. He visited every tent in the regiment and a few nights after had a very interesting meeting, - was always with the regiment on the march, or in action, and always looking after the sick and wounded as well as after their spiritual welfare.

    In the spring of 1863, while the regiment was sent up the Rappahamock River to guard the Kelley's Ford, we were paid off and many of the boys wished to send a little of their wages home, but we were 15 miles from the army and all the mail had to go back there. So the Chaplain told us that the mail bag would be hanging on the Adjutant's tent pole and for us to put in whatever we wished to send home and he would start the following morning for the Army. Now part of the road was infested with bushwhackers and the Chaplain had and old sorrel mars that once was fleet but couldn't stand take long. So the next morning, just at the break of day he mounted he steed with the mail bag tied so that it would not be lost in a race. When he had gone about two miles and just as he was making a turn in the road he was halted by a man who held his gun on him, but the Chaplain, lay down upon his horse and sent the spurs deep into it's sides and rode him down, but was fired upon by two men in his rear and he and his horse were wounded, the former in the arm and the latter in the hip, but he soon left them and reached headquarters safety where he remained all night. He returned the next morning and reported to the regiment, he soon recovered but the old mare did not. So after a few days a subscription paper was passed around among the boys and a good horse was bought and presented to him by the Adjutant with some feeling remarks to which the Chaplain tried to reply, but could not say anything but that it looked as if the old mare had played out. Chaplain Sage was in the new 4th also and mustered out in 1866, having served nearly 4 years. He then returned to his home in White Pigeon, Mich. where he lived and was beloved by all who him, foe his real goodness and bravery. He had two sons in the 4th regiment and they were very much like their father and came home with honorable records and have all been mustered out into the that Grand Army above, and I expect to meet them at the final reunion."

As we look over the completion of this book we see no romance or love on it's pages without  which no book is complete today. I was one of the actors in a little affair of the heart so I will give the incident. In the month of May and June of 1863 while we were in encamped near Kelley's Ford on the Rappahannock River, there lived a family by the name of Reese, consisting of a young lady and her mother. After hearing that they had a good well, I one day thought to get a canteen of good water so started for the place when I got near the house and seeing the young lady I asked if I could fill my canteen and get a drink. She said I could, then she went into the house and soon returned with a gourd. So after I had drawn a moss covered bucket of water and filled my canteen, we both took a drink from the same gourd.  Now I never would have believed that I, a Union soldier, could have fallen in love with a black eyed rebel, but when I had gone away, I found that to be a fact. In a few days, I found time to visit her again and sitting on the old well platform we talked of our families and of the war and she told me plainly that she was a confederate, while I owned up to being in love with the Union and it's flag. But she was plain and honest and stood by her convictions that she was entitled to my respect and I rather loved the girl and as there had been an artist in camp for a few days we exchanged photos, and I have her's now and often think of her when I look upon it and think of the many happy hours that we spent in each others company and how it relieved the monotony of camp life. We never became engaged or made any promises for the future. But today I think of her very kindly as my little black eyed rebel Miss Julia Reese. About the 25th of June we received orders to march, then I bid her goodbye and little did we think that it was our last goodbye. I give this to show that there was some pleasant things in the army, some bright spots upon which the memory can rest today.

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H.D. & S. D..jpg (26683 bytes)

Harrison Daniels 1911

A note of special thanks and gratitude to Hope Mc Gookey and her father for giving me a copy of Harrison Daniel's diary. This is a great treasure and a window  into one of the best Infantry Regiments to serve in the Grand Army of the Potomac.

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